darknet news

Dark web vendors behind 'CaliCartel' - Prosecuted

Ian Hoffmann, aged 44 and a resident of Bell Canyon, has been sentenced to a term of 10 years in prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. As per court records, Hoffmann operated multiple narcotics vendor accounts on various dark web marketplaces, including "CaliCartel" and "BuxomBrunette" on the Dream marketplace, "Playground" on the Silk Road 3.1 marketplace, and "GambinoCrimeFamily" on the Wall Street Market marketplace. Hoffmann was a highly active dark web drug trafficker, having completed over 2,000 drug sales in a six-month period between October 2018 and April 2019 alone. Hoffmann accepted cryptocurrency as payment for his narcotics and utilized the U.S. Postal Service to dispatch the drugs he sold.

In 2019, Hoffmann was placed under surveillance by federal law enforcement agents due to suspicion of mailing numerous packages containing narcotics on multiple occasions. Following this, the agents proceeded to execute a search warrant at Hoffmann's place of residence, where they discovered and confiscated a significant amount of illicit substances, including approximately 5 pounds of heroin, 14 pounds of cocaine, and 40 pounds of methamphetamine. Additionally, two loaded firearms, three boxes of ammunition, a bulletproof vest, more than a quarter of a million dollars in cash, a money-counting machine, several scales, and packaging materials were also seized.

Today, Gabriel Alva, a 31-year-old resident of Winnetka, has pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as possessing a firearm in furtherance of this drug trafficking offense. As per court documents, Alva and his co-conspirators were involved in running multiple drug vendor accounts on various dark web contraband marketplaces, including "Diablow" on the Silk Road 3.1 marketplace, "RaiseAppeals" on the Dream marketplace, and "RaisedByDiablow" on the Nightmare marketplace. Alva's dark web vendor pages offered crystal methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and other narcotics for sale, with payment accepted in cryptocurrency. Alva converted approximately $1.3 million worth of various cryptocurrencies into cash. In May 2019, law enforcement agents seized nearly 2 kilograms of heroin, more than 2 kilograms of cocaine, and nearly 24 kilograms of methamphetamine from Alva's residence. Agents also seized a Remington shotgun and a Smith & Wesson assault rifle, which Alva admitted to possessing to further his dark web drug trafficking operation.

The aforementioned cases have arisen as a result of investigations conducted by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) Task Force, comprising agents from various federal agencies such as Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The NCIDE Task Force is a federal task force with a primary focus on targeting all forms of illicit dark web and cryptocurrency activity in the Eastern District of California and beyond. The prosecution of both cases is being carried out by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Stefanki.

Alva is slated to receive sentencing from U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on September 26, 2023. Alva is confronted with a maximum statutory punishment of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine. Nevertheless, the court will exercise its discretion in determining the actual sentence, taking into account relevant statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which consider various variables.